Streets across America have become the sounding board for the majority that refuses to remain silent in such turbulent economic times. The cry is for jobs, for economic justice, for a fair shake at making a decent living. AFRO reporters hit the streets of the District of Columbia to engage those who are struggling with unemployment and the accompanying challenges. This regular series will share their plight, one which is common to so many. What does it take to survive?

Jeremy Butler, 22, Washington, D.C, employed
“There should be two things done to eliminate this problem for good. First, we must take care of the people who are currently suffering from unemployment with multiple job fairs and other huge events that will supply them with the needed resources. Then we need to look back and see where this problem usually starts so we as a people can catch it. As high school is usually the turning point for students making decisions for their future, there should be multiples steps taken to greatly decrease the unemployment rate; services such as mandatory classes that need to be taken in order to graduate, that would teach students the importance of employment in the U.S. This course should also supply students with multiple resources to help them in the actual process of seeking a job.”

Ronald Jones, 25, Government IT Specialist, Washington, D.C.
“I think it’s a hard hitting phenomenon to grasp. I read that it’s now approaching a one year period for people who are unemployed as opposed to what traditionally would be a maximum of two months. If you have a job, you’re holding on for dear life and if you don’t have one, you’re doing the same thing.”

Segun Olagunju, former D.C. resident, 29, head of Leadership at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa, left D.C. for the position in August 2010

“I would say it’s getting quite troubling. Sometimes I feel fortunate that I left the employment market in the . It’s odd because it’s like hearing stories of places in the developing world. I never would think U.S. would be struggling to this extent.”

A.Brooke Russell, Office Professional, 31, Washington, D.C.
“I’ve been unemployed for exactly one year and living paycheck-to-paycheck on unemployment has cut my financial resources significantly. I didn’t think it would be this difficult. I’m still job hunting. I’m looking for any executive administrative positions or any public relations or event planning positions. I have been trying to keep up with trends in the event planning industry as well as utilizing the skills I already possess in an attempt not to lose them, but it’s been extremely frustrating. I have never been unemployed for this length of time. I haven’t even had an interview in about five months.”

Farone Williams, 24, recently employed, Bartender/Musician
“I think that there is too much innovation … in this country so many people without work. Another thing, too, is that all of these huge corporations are laying off by the thousands, but their CEOs are getting multimillion dollar bonuses at the end of the fiscal (year) … It’s a damn shame. I quit my old bartending job in May and it took me about a month to find a new one. It’s harder for a young Black man to get a bartending job somewhere because they assume that I was doing something shady and can’t believe me when I tell them I left my old job for a better opportunity.
A lot of places just weren’t hiring.”

Click here to read our first edition of “Survivors”